A Question of Honour: Why the Taliban Fight and What to Do About It

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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Abstract

Afghanistan is not like Iraq. What may work well in Iraq, or elsewhere, may not be a wise policy in Afghanistan. The original alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda was largely one of convenience between a poverty-stricken national movement and a transnational cause that brought material help. Unlike Al-Qaeda, the Taliban are interested in their homeland, not ours. The Taliban know how costly keeping Qaeda can be. Even if the Taliban took control of Afghanistan it is not clear that Al-Qaeda would be welcome again. Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan must be dealt with on their own terms. There’s a good chance that enough of the factions in the Taliban coalition would decide for themselves to disinvite their troublesome guest if we contained them by maintaining pressure without trying to subdue them or hold their territory, intervening only when we see movement to help Al-Qaeda or act beyond the region. We’re winning against Al-Qaeda and its kin in places where anti-terrorism efforts are local and built on an understanding that the ties binding terrorist networks today are more cultural and familial than political or ideological.

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